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Apple radio service may come on Monday

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Apple, aiming to overcome recent missteps and keep its cutting-edge reputation, is expected to unveil a streaming music service along with fresh hardware and software at an annual conference on Monday.

Speculation that Apple will provide developers with a look at an online radio service heightened Friday with reports that the California company had inked a content deal with Sony Music.

Universal and Warner music groups are already said to be on board with Apple, and enlisting the Japanese entertainment giant would mean that all three major music labels have been won over to the service.

"They need a streaming audio service to remain at the forefront of their customers' music experience," said Forrester analyst Charles Golvin.

"People are moving to Rdio, Spotify and even Google Music; Apple can't rely just on the iTunes store model anymore."

Apple appears to have the software and services in place and had only to work out "niggling details" regarding business relationships with labels owning music and publishing rights, according to Golvin.

"I would not be surprised to see an Apple radio service or streaming music service," Gartner analyst Van Baker said while sharing thoughts on the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), opening Monday.

Apple hardware design guru Jonathan Ive is expected to get the spotlight during an opening presentation at the conference packed with the makers of applications that help fuel love of the company's iPads, iPhones and other devices.

Ive was put in charge of the iOS software powering Apple mobile devices after the ousting of Scott Forstall in the wake of the launch of an iPhone maps program which was a spectacular flop.

Apple was forced to make a highly embarrassing apology in September for its glitch-ridden maps application in the operating system used by the iPhone 5 and urged customers to use rival programs while improvements are made.

Apple has also been steadily losing market share in the hot market for smartphones and tablets to rivals devices powered by the Google Android operating system.

Along with an iOS 7 given a style make-over by Ive, WWDC will likely showcase improvements to the maps application and other programs for tasks or entertainment.

"They went through some tough bumps in the road last year with maps, so people will be watching to see what they've done to make it as good as, or better than, Google Maps," Golvin said.

Google tirelessly woos developers to its Android operating system, which has become the most popular mobile software platform in the world.

Google last month had its annual developers conference in the same San Francisco venue where WWDC will take place.

"They have got to make sure they keep the developers happy," Baker said of Apple.

"Right now, they do," he continued. "Developers make a lot more money on iOS than they do on Android, but, that said, most developers don't make enough money to pay the bills."

While Apple gadget users devour apps at a rate of about 800 per second and are known to be more likely to spend money on or in the mini-programs, competition is fierce with more than 850,000 offerings in the App Store.

Apple is likely to introduce upgraded Macbook laptops powered by new Intel computer chips, but new versions of the iPad and iPhone are not expected until later this year despite repeated promises by Apple chief Tim Cook that the company has "amazing" products in the works.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130609/apple-radio-service-may-come-monday